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*''Japanese'': 琉球処分 ''(Ryûkyû shobun)''
 
*''Japanese'': 琉球処分 ''(Ryûkyû shobun)''
  
Over the course of the 1870s, through a great many individual steps, the [[Meiji government]] gradually abolished the [[Ryukyu Kingdom|Ryûkyû Kingdom]] and seized control of its territory. Spurred by the [[Taiwan Incident of 1871]], this began with the [[1872]] reorganization of the Kingdom as "[[Ryukyu han|Ryûkyû han]]," and culminated with a series of actions in [[1876]]-[[1879]] known as the ''Ryûkyû shobun'', a plan suggested by [[Minister of the Interior]] [[Okubo Toshimichi|Ôkubo Toshimichi]] and executed under the supervision of [[Matsuda Michiyuki]], who was named ''Shobun-kan'' ("''Shobun'' Officer") by [[Emperor Meiji]] on 10 June 1876.
+
Over the course of the 1870s, through a great many individual steps, the [[Meiji government]] gradually abolished the [[Ryukyu Kingdom|Ryûkyû Kingdom]] and seized control of its territory. Spurred by the [[Taiwan Incident of 1871]], this began with the [[1872]] reorganization of the Kingdom as "[[Ryukyu han|Ryûkyû han]]," and culminated with a series of actions in [[1876]]-[[1879]] known as the ''Ryûkyû shobun'', a plan suggested by [[Minister of the Interior]] [[Okubo Toshimichi|Ôkubo Toshimichi]] and executed under the supervision of [[Matsuda Michiyuki]].
  
 
==Name==
 
==Name==
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In March [[1875]], Ôkubo Toshimichi first articulated a plan to fully abolish the Ryûkyû Kingdom (then, already known as Ryûkyû han) and to fully absorb its territory into Japan's "home" territory. The government that same month rejected suggestions to implement some form of colonial administration, in favor of Ôkubo's plan.
 
In March [[1875]], Ôkubo Toshimichi first articulated a plan to fully abolish the Ryûkyû Kingdom (then, already known as Ryûkyû han) and to fully absorb its territory into Japan's "home" territory. The government that same month rejected suggestions to implement some form of colonial administration, in favor of Ôkubo's plan.
  
[[Matsuda Michiyuki]] stepped down as governor of [[Shiga prefecture]] on March 25, taking a position with the Ministry of the Interior. On June 10, he was named ''Shobun-kan'' ("Disposition Officer") by [[Emperor Meiji]] and placed in charge of the abolition/overthrow and annexation, that is, the ''Shobun''.
+
Matsuda Michiyuki stepped down as governor of [[Shiga prefecture]] on March 25, taking a position with the Ministry of the Interior. On June 10, he was named ''Shobun-kan'' ("Disposition Officer") by [[Emperor Meiji]] and placed in charge of the abolition/overthrow and annexation, that is, the ''Shobun''. He left for Ryûkyû two days later with an entourage of over 70, and on July 14 entered [[Shuri castle]], meeting with [[Prince Nakijin]],<ref>Prince Nakijin served as the chief Ryukyuan representative in all these negotiations and meetings as King [[Sho Tai|Shô Tai]] was either quite ill, or was feigning illness in order to avoid having to appear in person, submit himself in any way, or otherwise lose face.</ref> and issuing a series of demands:
 +
::#The exchange of envoys and missions with China was to end, and the ''[[Ryukyu-kan|Ryûkyû-kan]]'' in [[Fuzhou]] was to be abolished.
 +
::#The Japanese calendar was to be used, and not Chinese reign years.
 +
::#The legal, bureaucratic, and court systems in Ryûkyû, along with the criminal code, were to be revised and reformed.
 +
::#Roughly ten Ryukyuan students were to be sent to Tokyo to study.
 +
::#A Japanese garrison was to be stationed in Ryûkyû.
 +
::#Shô Tai was to journey to Tokyo and pay his respects to the Emperor.<ref>Uemura. p119.</ref>
 +
The Ryukyuan officials agreed to a number of the stipulations, including the sending of students to Tokyo, but rejected the majority of the demands, including the abolition of [[Ryukyuan missions to China]], and the exclusive use of the Japanese calendar (as that would interfere with relations with China). They argued that societal circumstances and differences precluded the implementation of Japanese systems of administration and law in Ryûkyû, and agreed begrudgingly to a Japanese garrison so long as it was small. Furthermore, they asserted that Shô Tai could not travel to Tokyo because of his illness, a point that most historians attribute to efforts by the Ryukyuan authorities to avoid the king having to formally express his submission to the Japanese Emperor; the king's illness (or that of the queen regent) had been cited in times past as a delaying tactic, and as a tactic to rebuff, for example, foreign agents such as [[Commodore Perry]].<ref>Kerr, George. ''Okinawa: The History of an Island People''. Revised Edition. Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp310, 363, 372.</ref>
 +
 
 +
[[Ikegusuku ueekata]] and several other Ryukyuan officials accompanied Matsuda back to Tokyo, in order to complain more formally, officially and directly. Ikegusuku or other representatives of the court remained in Tokyo for a full year, until October 1876, consistently rejecting Japanese demands. As the Ryukyuan opposition was most strongly focused on defending the desire for continued tributary relations with China, Matsuda saw that Japan continued to gradually encroach upon Ryukyuan internal (domestic) authority, gradually seizing control of internal Ryukyuan affairs. One of the first steps was the imposition of Japanese criminal codes and law enforcement in Ryûkyû, managed through the local branch office of the Ministry of the Interior. A military base, housing the [[Kumamoto Garrison]], was established soon afterwards.
 +
 
 +
Several Ryukyuan officials, including [[Kochi ueekata|Kôchi ueekata]], secretly left for China in December 1876, meeting with Chinese officials in Fuzhou and securing promises that China would aim to resolve the situation through diplomatic means. [[He Ruzhang]], a new Resident Diplomatic Minister, arrived in Tokyo in December 1877, after meeting with Ryukyuan officials in [[Kobe]]; over the course of the next year, he would speak with Ryukyuan and Japanese officials on a number of occasions, and send reports back to Beijing requesting that strong measures be taken. Meanwhile, Ryukyuan officials sent letters to the American, French, and Dutch representatives in Tokyo, referring to their countries' respective treaties with the Kingdom of Ryûkyû, and complaining of Tokyo's behavior and intentions.
 +
 
 +
Matsuda Michiyuki returned to Ryûkyû in January 1879, and again in March, this time bringing with him a considerable entourage including 160 military police, and 400 soldiers from the Kumamoto Garrison. On March 27, he presented to Prince Nakijin the formal document declaring the abolition of the Ryûkyû Kingdom and the annexation of its lands as Okinawa Prefecture. King Shô Tai was given until March 31 to vacate the castle and leave for Tokyo; there, he would officially submit to the Emperor, be stripped of his title as "King" (or, by this time, ''han'ô''), and be absorbed into the [[kazoku|Japanese peerage]] as a Marquis (''kôshaku''). The king did so on March 30, and Japanese authorities immediately took over [[Shuri castle]], installing a military garrison there.
 +
 
 +
Over the ensuing months and years, Japanese control and administration would be, step by step, further expanded in the islands. Prefectural administration was dominated by Japanese officials, especially those from [[Satsuma han]] (now [[Kagoshima prefecture]]), and not by native Ryukyuans, least of all anyone formerly involved in the royal or ''han'' bureaucracy. [[Kinashi Seiichiro|Kinashi Seiichirô]] had been named Acting Governor of the not-yet-existent prefecture on March 3rd, but was replaced a few months later by [[Nabeshima Naoyoshi]], who is counted as the first Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, arriving on May 18th and serving in that capacity for almost exactly two years (until May 19, [[1881]]).
  
 
==References==
 
==References==
 
*Uemura Hideaki. "The Colonial Annexation of Okinawa and the Logic of International Law: The Formation of an 'Indigenous People' in East Asia." ''Japanese Studies'' 23:2 (2003). pp107-124.
 
*Uemura Hideaki. "The Colonial Annexation of Okinawa and the Logic of International Law: The Formation of an 'Indigenous People' in East Asia." ''Japanese Studies'' 23:2 (2003). pp107-124.
 +
<references/>
  
 
[[Category:Events and Incidents]]
 
[[Category:Events and Incidents]]
 
[[Category:Ryukyu]]
 
[[Category:Ryukyu]]
 
[[Category:Meiji Period]]
 
[[Category:Meiji Period]]

Revision as of 01:02, 20 December 2011

  • Japanese: 琉球処分 (Ryûkyû shobun)

Over the course of the 1870s, through a great many individual steps, the Meiji government gradually abolished the Ryûkyû Kingdom and seized control of its territory. Spurred by the Taiwan Incident of 1871, this began with the 1872 reorganization of the Kingdom as "Ryûkyû han," and culminated with a series of actions in 1876-1879 known as the Ryûkyû shobun, a plan suggested by Minister of the Interior Ôkubo Toshimichi and executed under the supervision of Matsuda Michiyuki.

Contents

Name

The term Ryûkyû shobun (琉球処分) is most commonly given in English as "the Disposition of Ryûkyû." However, this has nothing to do with "disposition" in the sense of one's mood or temperament, or inclinations or tendencies. Rather, the word shobun is much more closely related in meaning to the English word "disposal."

Background

The 1870s were a very busy and complex time for Ryukyuan-Japanese relations.[1] The Meiji Restoration in 1868 brought the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the establishment of a new Imperial government organized with strong influence from Western models. The abolition of the han brought a need for a re-assessment or redefinition of Ryûkyû's relationship to Japan, and the Taiwan Incident of 1871, in which a number of Miyako Islanders were killed by Taiwanese aborigines, led to disputes with China over claims to Taiwan and Ryûkyû, and spurred the Japanese government's desire to settle the Ryûkyû situation decisively.

In 1872, the Ryûkyû Kingdom was declared to be "Ryûkyû han," and its king, Shô Tai, to now no longer be koku-ô (国王, king of a country), but han-ô (藩王, lord of a domain), despite the fact that all the Japanese han (domains) had already been abolished the previous year. Ryûkyû was placed under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then, in 1874, under the purview of the newly established Ministry of the Interior.

Japan launched a punitive military expedition to Taiwan in 1874, and by the end of that year settled a treaty with China in which the latter officially acknowledged the Ryukyuan people as Japanese subjects. Ryukyuan envoys regularly met with Japanese officials, and were assured that (for now) Ryûkyû continued to have authority over its own internal affairs, and over its relations with China. However, after Ryûkyû sent a tribute mission to Beijing in 1875, and in light of a myriad of other developments, Ôkubo Toshimichi began to push for the full annexation of Ryûkyû's territory, a plan and a process which today is known as the Ryûkyû shobun.

International Law & Diplomatic Relations

The entire series of meetings, negotiations, debates and plans regarding the Ryûkyû situation in the 1870s played out against a background of the clash between traditional East Asian conceptions of international relations, and "modern"/Western forms of international law and diplomatic relations. Japan's relationship with Ryûkyû[2] had for centuries been understood and articulated in terms of the conceptions, and terminology, of the traditional East Asian world order. Yet, now, in order for its actions in Ryûkyû and its overall disposition in international relations to play out in a manner which Western powers would acknowledge, respect, and consider appropriate in terms of international law, all of this had to be re-articulated.

Throughout the early 1870s, in negotiations with China regarding the disputes over both Taiwan and Ryûkyû, terminology was employed in which Japanese sovereignty in the modern/Western sense was asserted over territories and peoples which had been considered "subjects," "vassals," or "belonging"[3] to Japan under the traditional East Asian system.

As a result of having taken this stance, and in order to maintain that assertion, Ôkubo Toshimichi rejected suggestions from French diplomatic & legal advisor Gustave Emile Boissonade that Ryûkyû be administered more indirectly, like a colony.

Overthrow and Annexation

In March 1875, Ôkubo Toshimichi first articulated a plan to fully abolish the Ryûkyû Kingdom (then, already known as Ryûkyû han) and to fully absorb its territory into Japan's "home" territory. The government that same month rejected suggestions to implement some form of colonial administration, in favor of Ôkubo's plan.

Matsuda Michiyuki stepped down as governor of Shiga prefecture on March 25, taking a position with the Ministry of the Interior. On June 10, he was named Shobun-kan ("Disposition Officer") by Emperor Meiji and placed in charge of the abolition/overthrow and annexation, that is, the Shobun. He left for Ryûkyû two days later with an entourage of over 70, and on July 14 entered Shuri castle, meeting with Prince Nakijin,[4] and issuing a series of demands:

  1. The exchange of envoys and missions with China was to end, and the Ryûkyû-kan in Fuzhou was to be abolished.
  2. The Japanese calendar was to be used, and not Chinese reign years.
  3. The legal, bureaucratic, and court systems in Ryûkyû, along with the criminal code, were to be revised and reformed.
  4. Roughly ten Ryukyuan students were to be sent to Tokyo to study.
  5. A Japanese garrison was to be stationed in Ryûkyû.
  6. Shô Tai was to journey to Tokyo and pay his respects to the Emperor.[5]

The Ryukyuan officials agreed to a number of the stipulations, including the sending of students to Tokyo, but rejected the majority of the demands, including the abolition of Ryukyuan missions to China, and the exclusive use of the Japanese calendar (as that would interfere with relations with China). They argued that societal circumstances and differences precluded the implementation of Japanese systems of administration and law in Ryûkyû, and agreed begrudgingly to a Japanese garrison so long as it was small. Furthermore, they asserted that Shô Tai could not travel to Tokyo because of his illness, a point that most historians attribute to efforts by the Ryukyuan authorities to avoid the king having to formally express his submission to the Japanese Emperor; the king's illness (or that of the queen regent) had been cited in times past as a delaying tactic, and as a tactic to rebuff, for example, foreign agents such as Commodore Perry.[6]

Ikegusuku ueekata and several other Ryukyuan officials accompanied Matsuda back to Tokyo, in order to complain more formally, officially and directly. Ikegusuku or other representatives of the court remained in Tokyo for a full year, until October 1876, consistently rejecting Japanese demands. As the Ryukyuan opposition was most strongly focused on defending the desire for continued tributary relations with China, Matsuda saw that Japan continued to gradually encroach upon Ryukyuan internal (domestic) authority, gradually seizing control of internal Ryukyuan affairs. One of the first steps was the imposition of Japanese criminal codes and law enforcement in Ryûkyû, managed through the local branch office of the Ministry of the Interior. A military base, housing the Kumamoto Garrison, was established soon afterwards.

Several Ryukyuan officials, including Kôchi ueekata, secretly left for China in December 1876, meeting with Chinese officials in Fuzhou and securing promises that China would aim to resolve the situation through diplomatic means. He Ruzhang, a new Resident Diplomatic Minister, arrived in Tokyo in December 1877, after meeting with Ryukyuan officials in Kobe; over the course of the next year, he would speak with Ryukyuan and Japanese officials on a number of occasions, and send reports back to Beijing requesting that strong measures be taken. Meanwhile, Ryukyuan officials sent letters to the American, French, and Dutch representatives in Tokyo, referring to their countries' respective treaties with the Kingdom of Ryûkyû, and complaining of Tokyo's behavior and intentions.

Matsuda Michiyuki returned to Ryûkyû in January 1879, and again in March, this time bringing with him a considerable entourage including 160 military police, and 400 soldiers from the Kumamoto Garrison. On March 27, he presented to Prince Nakijin the formal document declaring the abolition of the Ryûkyû Kingdom and the annexation of its lands as Okinawa Prefecture. King Shô Tai was given until March 31 to vacate the castle and leave for Tokyo; there, he would officially submit to the Emperor, be stripped of his title as "King" (or, by this time, han'ô), and be absorbed into the Japanese peerage as a Marquis (kôshaku). The king did so on March 30, and Japanese authorities immediately took over Shuri castle, installing a military garrison there.

Over the ensuing months and years, Japanese control and administration would be, step by step, further expanded in the islands. Prefectural administration was dominated by Japanese officials, especially those from Satsuma han (now Kagoshima prefecture), and not by native Ryukyuans, least of all anyone formerly involved in the royal or han bureaucracy. Kinashi Seiichirô had been named Acting Governor of the not-yet-existent prefecture on March 3rd, but was replaced a few months later by Nabeshima Naoyoshi, who is counted as the first Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, arriving on May 18th and serving in that capacity for almost exactly two years (until May 19, 1881).

References

  • Uemura Hideaki. "The Colonial Annexation of Okinawa and the Logic of International Law: The Formation of an 'Indigenous People' in East Asia." Japanese Studies 23:2 (2003). pp107-124.
  1. For more thorough chronological details, see the Timeline pages for each individual year.
  2. As well as its relations with every other state or nation in the region, and their relations with one another, e.g. China's relationship with Ryûkyû.
  3. Zokkoku 属国 and zokumin 属民, most literally meaning "country which belongs" and "people which belongs," respectively, were used to refer to Ryûkyû and to the Ainu as "subject state" or "vassal people."
  4. Prince Nakijin served as the chief Ryukyuan representative in all these negotiations and meetings as King Shô Tai was either quite ill, or was feigning illness in order to avoid having to appear in person, submit himself in any way, or otherwise lose face.
  5. Uemura. p119.
  6. Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Revised Edition. Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp310, 363, 372.
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